Good news for Rahul Gandhi! He is set to become the president of Congress party unopposed. But is it really a good news for the party?
Good news for Rahul Gandhi! He is set to become the president of Congress party unopposed. But is it really a good news for the party, which has drastically lost its political weight while being virtually led by Rahul Gandhi over the last many years? The only dissenting voice against Rahul’s elevation has come from Maharashtra Congress leader Shehzad Poonawalla, who has claimed that the presidential election of the party has been ‘rigged’ in favour of the Gandhi family scion. Poonawalla was spot on in his attack. “Farcical and cosmetic exercises take place but nothing changes substantially.” He further asked, “I again ask you- will you bring in a rule that only one ticket or post will be given in every family including your own?.”
The Congress has been reduced to margins and it has yet failed to find a formula to beat the electoral magic weaved by Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo of the BJP in the last three years, not just at the Centre but in state assemblies and local bodies as well. It should be a case study for the Congress as its decline has coincided with the rising profile of Rahul Gandhi in the party. Such has been the story of his rise, that no new regional Congress leader has been able to make a name for himself/herself in the last 12-13 years.
Rahul Gandhi formally joined Congress in 2004 and got a ticket to contest the then General Elections from his decades-old family bastion of Amethi. Soon, he was appointed as the General Secretary of the party and also given charge of the Congress youth wings like IYC and NSUI. Rahul promised that he would revolutionise the youth wings of the party but failed. In 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi led the Congress campaign, holding over 150 rallies but couldn’t succeed in swinging voters mood. The Congress had then finished in the last place.
Ahead of 2014 General Elections, Rahul Gandhi was appointed the party vice-president in 2013. He virtually led the Congress campaign but the party was reduced to a humiliating 44 seats in Lok Sabha. Compared to 2012, Rahul’s record was even worse in the 2017 assembly elections in UP when he led the Congress campaign again, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over issues like demonetisation. Months before the polls, he had questioned the validity of Surgical Strikes carried out by the Indian Army on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. After initially rallying across the state alone and attacking the ruling Samajwadi Party as well the BJP, Rahul joined hands with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. But Uttar Pradesh rejected ‘UP Ke Ladke’ and Congress was almost wiped out.
It is apparent that Rahul Gandhi has been calling the shots in Congress for years. In 2013, he had surprised all by saying an ordinance to save convicted politicians, prepared by the then Manmohan Singh government at the Centre, should be thrown in a dustbin. Ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections, Congress is surprisingly confident that Rahul Gandhi’s elevation will revive the party. “Rahul Gandhi is a darling of the Congress and he will carry forward the great traditions of the party,” former PM Manmohan Singh said today after Rahul filed his nomination. One can’t yet predict whether Rahul will make Singh’s claim true or not. But, the electoral tradition he has set for the Congress is no good news for the party.